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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2013 4:29:43 PM PST
Kacee says:
W, thanks for the advice, much appreciated. I hope I can go in four years time. That's when a savings plan pays out, and hubby, our daughter and I could all go.

Time to turn in, it's 12.30am so I'll say goodnight. Have a lovely evening.

Posted on Feb 18, 2013 9:23:52 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 18, 2013 9:24:08 AM PST
To all: Since sock puppets are making a ruckus on another thread--I though I would share a sock puppet story with some very real-life consequences. It might also serve as an illustration of CP Snow's First Law of Academic Politics: the viciousness is inversely proportional to the wider importance. Also Snow's Second Law: Politics is scale independent.

Posted on Feb 18, 2013 11:22:58 AM PST
Cavaradossi says:
Did you hear about the sock puppet that got depressed because its twin never made it back from the laundry?

Posted on Feb 18, 2013 11:42:02 AM PST
Cav: [rimshot]

Quick question: did you listen to Rigoletto on Saturday? Sounds like a very, shall we say, over-conceptualized production, but the performance sounded good. One is again sstuck by how good a dramatist Verdi was. The last act is so very cleverly constructed.

Another: Have you read the reviews for the Met's new production of Parsifal? Sounds a bit grim. I don't thing Wagner would have approved.

Posted on Feb 18, 2013 2:10:12 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 18, 2013 2:12:18 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
William A. Smith

Re Rigoletto

I skipped the broadcast since it was an HD movie theater presentation and I will look forward to watching it on PBS. However, always being up for Rigoletto, I did something I've wanted to do for a long time - listen again to that classic Warren, Peerce, Berger recording of the opera released in 1950. I haven't heard it in more years than I can remember and enjoyed it every bit as much as I did years ago, before there were many more Rigolettos in my life. Fortunately, the old RCA LPs, purchased in 1959, have held up very well, all the more so since RCA declined to release the set on CD.

Since I have on laserdisc the English production of Rigoletto set in New York's Little Italy among gangsters, the idea of placing it in Las Vegas doesn't seem that much of a stretch for me. Was Piotr Beczala the Duke in Saturday's broadcast? If so, I am sorry having missed him, and that gives all the more reason to look forward to the broadcast.

Did you see the Met's production of The Tales of Hoffmann? Now, that one I didn't care for, as much for the musical shenanigans for the physical production. I thought the cast did fine, except for the uninteresting Giulietta. What is it with that character, who should be fascinating in the extreme, as Offenbach's music paints her? Yet, the Giulietta is often the weak link in performances of the opera. The mezzos who sing her just seem baffled in how to project her seductiveness, vocally as well as in acting. I thought the one in the Met telecast, a Slavic lady whose name eludes me, was particularly aggravating in her failure with the role.

Yes, I have been reading about the Met's new Parsifal production, which will probably forever after be known as the "sea of blood" Parsifal. It does sound way out, but the fact is I've become so used to strange stagings of Wagner that they don't seem to bother me now as much as they once did. I even find some of the interesting and successful, such as Peter Konwitschny's Lohengrin. This production takes place in a schoolroom with all the characters, except Lohengrin apparently, played as children. It actually works surprisingly well and comes up with one heck of a shocking conclusion. Now, if only the singing on the DVD I have were better? It's not disastrous, just not quite what you would like to hear in Wagner, except for the Elsa, Emily McGhee, who demonstrates why she's one of the leading performers of the lighter Wagner soprano roles today.

As for the Met's Parsifal, it has a wonderful cast, with Jonas Kaufmann apparently being particularly good. (No surprise there; does that guy ever put a wrong foot forward?) I am also a fan of Katarina Delayman and Rene Pape, so there is more to anticipate. I look forward to seeing the PBS broadcast of the production, but it would be really nice if I were able to attend the upcoming HD movie theater presentation on March 2.

Have you read any refutations of the idea being much discussed that the sea of blood is supposed to be menstrual?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 18, 2013 2:43:21 PM PST
Hikari says:
>>>Have you read any refutations of the idea being much discussed that the sea of blood is supposed to be menstrual?

Eww. Nothing anti-woman there, is there??

Inspector Morse would find such rather distasteful, I'd wager.

Posted on Feb 18, 2013 5:35:14 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:

From what I've read about the production, the director sees the world of Parsifal as one in which men and women are fundamentally divided. A rift in the floor of the stage represents this while the men and women of the chorus are separated by it into same sex groupings. There can be no fecundity in this world because of this rift, a rift that Parsifal as the Chosen One will heal at the end of the opera. This is a not unclever concept since Parsifal, among so many others things, celebrates nature, especially in the Good Friday spell scene in Act III. You can see from this how critics and audiences might take the sea of blood in Act II, the act in which Kundry, one of Wagner's most enigmatic creations, attempts to seduce Parsifal, as representing the menstrual variety. The women of this world, those in the chorus, the Flower Maidens that attempt to lure Parsifal, and Kundry, are not bearing children because of that fundamental rift between men and women. In addition, over the years since its premiere, Parsifal has been considered by many as an anti-sex opera. I'm not sure of that; the opera seems much more subtle than something so blatant, but the director is probably responding to that view as well.

I will need to read more about the production and see it for myself to get a handle on what the director is doing. It's not clear yet, from what I've read, if he has actually said anything specific about his conception of Parsifal, at least for this production.

There was a time in the not so distant past when Met audiences would have been outraged by productions of this nature. While the Met hasn't yet shown anything as wild as the so-called Eurotrash productions, it sounds like this one is getting there. Opera lovers are divided; some love these sorts of productions for their thought provoking concepts, while others loathe them with a passion. I'm slowly getting use to them and taking them on a one to one basis. For instance, I liked that Lohengrin I mentioned above , which was a wild concept, but hated an older Tannhauser in which nothing that took place on the stage had anything to do with Wagner's opera, just the music and the words. I also liked the controversial Stuttgart Ring of the Nibelung cycle in which each of the four operas were assigned to different directors, scenic designers, and singers; no continuing role was sung by the same singer as is the usual case. On the other hand, I hated the much praised, both by critics and audiences, Copenhagen Ring, excessively violent, with enough blood and dismemberment on stage to satisfy the biggest torture porn movie fan! Yuck! Plus I didn't think it was all that well sung, the biggest sin of all.

It has been the case for many years now for Wagner, in particular, to receive this often outrageous productions. Anyone longing to experience his great operas in their original ancient or medieval settings, with the story straightforwardly told, is pretty much up the proverbial creek. This is what happens when "artistic" radicals are given free reign as impresarios and directors. The opera world is being pummeled into acceptance. Don't get me started on some of the Mozart productions I've seen. To this we've come. Still, if you're an opera lover, you've got to have your fix, and I'm as big an addict as they come.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 8:32:34 AM PST
Cav: You might be interested to know that the Warren Rigoletto is in fact available as a CD: Verdi: Rigoletto

It will not surprise you that I find these tortured re-interpretations extremely unsatisfactory. There is always a fine line between innovation and foolishness in re-setting classic theater into different periods and settings. Shakespeare's works have been the victim of much vandalism as a result. In the opera world, it seems that the lack of satisfactory new works that can find an audience and hold the stage in part drives producers and directors to these excesses--as well as a frantic attempt to make these works more relevant (I detest the word and the concept) and, frankly, just garden-variety egomania. These productions cease to be about the works, and are rather about the director. In fact, the name attached to the concept--Regietheater, or director's / producer's theater--rather exactly describes it.

In the case of Wagner, modernist re-interpretations go back a long way. Wieland Wagner's minimalist approach dates tot he early 50s at Bayreuth. At least Wieland had a good grasp of the psychology of the works. (The only Wieland production I ever saw was a Walkure in Paris, witht he Valkyries in what looked like evening gowns.) Your description of the background concept of the Met's new Parsifal illustrates just how much the director has ignored the clear intent of the work. To begin with, it eliminates the contrast between the continuing health of the natural world (the Good Friday monologue) and the wounded Amfortas. Furthermore, it ignores the meaning of Amfortas' wound, which comes straight from the medieval sources--it's a thigh wound, and symbolizes lust--the domain of Klingsor, the Flower Maidens, and one side of Kundry. Wagner's conception is not anti-sex, but anti-lust. Behind the Grail tradition, there is another, more ancient concept of the relationship between the fecundity of the king and the fecundity of the land--Wagner transfers the blight from the land itself to the the knights of the Grail. To argue that the problem with the Grail King (Amfortas) is the rejection of women is just plain silly. I'm a bit too much of a scholar of the medieval sources and their meaning to accept this sort of nonsense.

Besides which--from the NYT review, the production sounds ugly.

I have heard about some of the abominations practiced in the name of Mozart, of course.

At this point, much as I love the visual aspects of an opera production, I will not watch one that violates the original intent of the work. I'd rather just listen. Sorry, but that Lohengrin sounds just plain dreadful--like of like an operatic Terror in Tiny Town. I'm certainly not arguing that one needs to adhere religiously to the 19th century style of production for a 19th century work (gosh,what a concept!), but that the interpretation has to make some sense in light of the period and the composer's intent. And that still gives a lot of latitude. As an example--I need to draw on Shakespeare--the Ian McKellen Richard III (directed by Richard Loncraine) worked very well indeed. I agree with taking things on a case by case basis. But I find myself pretty appalled by the incursion of empty theatricality of the Cirque du Soliel variety into opera productions. (I've long maintained that the title of every Cirque show means "pretentious and expensive.")

A production needs to make sense in light of the work's original intent.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 9:29:56 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 19, 2013 9:32:38 AM PST
Hikari says:
I watched a trailer for Baz Luhrmann's Great Gatsby. I've gotta say, it doesn't look very promising. Jay-Z is doing the score. Yes, that's right--hip-hop mogul, husband of Beyonce Jay-Z.

It's obvious that Luhrmann is going after the youth market with a goosed-up version of a literary classic like he did with his last go-round, 'Romeo + Juliet'. Heaven forbid we bore the kids! 'Cause after all, they buy the bulk of the movie tickets any more . . .If a movie from a book they were all forced to read in high school is going to have a prayer of competing at the box office with something like 'Resident Evil Part 8' . . well, you hire Jay-Z to score it.

It's impossible to say from available data if DiCaprio, Maguire, Mulligan, Edgerton, et al, are actually any good--the trailer has so many distracting shiny bits in it. It definitely looks expensive. The release was pushed back by 6 months, though. The first trailer has 'Christmas 2012' on it--the revised release date is May 10, safely removed from the Memorial Day weekend blockbuster fray. Baz is hoping for maybe one decent week before his movie gets crushed by the latest Marvel comics or Transformers installment, no doubt.

Let us say I am reconsidering whether the 1972 version is really as bad as its reputation. Tobey Maguire is no Sam Waterson. Redford was always too smooth, too unruffled, handsome and self-possessed for Gatsby--Gatsby is a Loser, only posing as a winner. Redford was always too much of a winner to convincingly play such a morally compromised man as Gatsby. But dayum, didn't he look fine in the clothes?

I don't think Baz is going to make back half the money he spent on this movie. But look for some art direction/costume awards come next Oscar time.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 10:15:09 AM PST
H: Well, I have certainly defended some of Mr. Luhrmann's films. But not this one. I saw one of the trailers some time ago, and it set off alarm bells left, right, and center. The tone looks wrong. The music is likely to be wrong. The casting is wrong.

Gatsby is a rather somber novel, and this goosed-up version is just, well, vulgar. It shouldn't be that hard to film a decent version of it, and yet it has not fared all that well on the screen.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 11:53:27 AM PST
Just found a card to send to my goddaughter, and it's so funny I have to share it with you all.

Front: a portrait of Marie Antoinette, with the text:

All I said was,
"Let's have
"Let's eat
or something
like THAT, and
everyone got
all PI*SY!


Don't party with peasants.
They ruin everything.

Words of wisdom for the day.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 12:01:13 PM PST
Larry Kelley says:
Mr. Smith: Funny!!!! A slip of the tongue, a slight misinterpretation and the next thing you know someone's wants to cut off your head.
This may also be a warning not to hang around with short emperors.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 12:11:33 PM PST
LK: Napoleon had nothing, really, to do with the murder of the Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. His rise comes just a bit later, after the Terror and the Directory.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 12:13:13 PM PST
Larry Kelley says:
Mr. Smith: The thought crossed my mind that I had that wrong--oh well, poor attempt at humor.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 12:35:33 PM PST
C McGhee says:
William A. Smith- All I said was


Posted on Feb 19, 2013 1:10:02 PM PST
C McGhee says:
William A. Smith- computer

My son's new computer is here & I've never dealt with transferring files & settings from different OS before. His old one is XP (Momma gets that one) & his new OS is Windows 7. Is there problems inherent in changing OS like this? DUH!

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 1:51:57 PM PST
ICM: I find that I can be of assistance to you. May I suggest looking at Laplink?

One of their products may well be useful to you. Whether or not you want to spend the money for the software depends entirely on home complicated the transfer is. If you have a large number of applications that you want to transfer to the new machine--it's the ticket.

Hope it helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 3:17:16 PM PST
C McGhee says:
William A. Smith- laplink

I'll check them now. I have found some good instructions from Dell on line. It seems you can transfer files & settings from any windows program to any other windows program. XP & Vista require a downloaded tool to transfer to 7 or 8. Thank you for the link to laplink. :)

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 3:27:39 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
William A. Smith

Thanks for drawing my attention to that Preiser release of the Warren Rigoletto. I still wonder why RCA passed on releasing this, one of their classics, on CD back in the day when they bringing so many of their 50s, 60s, and 70s recordings out in the new format. It can't be because it was in mono because they early on produced CD versions of the early Trovatore, Aida, Cavalleria Rusticana, and Merrill's first Rigoletto, all with Jussi Bjoerling, who may be the key to answering this question. Yet, surely, Leonard Warren still had a big enough following to have justified a CD release of his 1950 Rigoletto. Plus, there are always new opera fans who are picking up on these great voices from the past and who will want those elder recordings. If RCA had released the Warren set, it would have come from the master tapes and not LP copies as in the case of the Preiser and Naxos releases of the recording. Also, they are not for sale in the US and have to be imported.

Which brings me to another point about these releases not authorized for sale in the US, but that can be imported. I have looked for some of the Naxos releases of these opera sets on, but they don't show them. I keep reading from time to time how these items are on that website, but they never are when I go searching for them there. Have you tried anything like this?

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 3:33:49 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:

Luhrmann's use of hip hop in Gatsby is mystifying. How in the world can you "hip hop" a story that is tied so specifically to the Jazz Age, indeed is one of the most famous artifacts of it? The idea sounds almost as bad as some of these Wagner productions these days, and makes about as much sense.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 3:48:23 PM PST
stevign says:
Gatsby? Hip-Hop? The horror....the horror..............

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 3:54:37 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 19, 2013 3:55:02 PM PST
"Unknowingly happy people".

Brilliant, and funny.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 4:07:49 PM PST
Hikari says:
I'm guessing that the score will include hip-hop, but all I've heard so far is the trailer music. Baz is notable for juxtaposing modern musical forms onto stories from an earlier time. "Moulin Rouge" features modern rock opera with the style visuals of something out of La Boheme; Romeo + Juliet used the Bard's dialogue but transplanted the settting and the soundtrack to the biker milieu of modern-day Los Angeles. It's Baz's thing.

Hip-hop is probably the only genre of music that I can't find anything good in. Will I watch? Probably, because I happen to admire the novel and many of this cast. Will I pay full ticket price? No.

While "Gatsby" epitomizes the Jazz Age, and I much prefer jazz to hip-hop, I can see where Baz is going with this . . .Hip-hop symbolizes the 'new', and the 'dangerous'--it is the music of the youth culture of its day, just as jazz was the new, hip, edgy music of the young in the 1920s. This might be an interesting experiment . . .or it could be an epic failure. Baz seems to never settle for a middling ground, but falls on one side or the other of this razor's edge. If it gets a new generation to reconsider "The Great Gatsby" with fresh eyes, it could be worthwhile.

Or it could be this year's "Cruel Intentions" (which I confess is a guilty pleasure of mine--that's the late '90s teen version of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe in the Close and Malkovich roles. That also featured a teen-friendly soundtrack of au courant radio hits as accompaniment. But this is The Great Gatsby . . .arguably the top American novel of the 20th century. Respect should be paid. We'll see how it goes! In 3-D, yet!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 4:23:29 PM PST
CM: Laplink is much easier, and better, than the Microsoft tools, particularly if you are transferring applications.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 4:27:10 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 19, 2013 4:28:09 PM PST
H: Failure is, I think, inevitable here. Another violation of the principle of adhering to the period--or, if not, transforming the material completely. Will a hip hop version bring new readers to Fitzgerald? I very much doubt it.

It's always an open question as to what The Great American Novel is--and Gatsby certainly is one of the leading candidates.
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